Hi everyone! This is our first official blog post at improme.org. We welcome you and hope you read our home page. This will help with understanding what we our trying to accomplish; and how you may help. Now let's get on with it.
Funny I decided to do our first blog piece about ancient Greek coins; considering we are an org mostly focused on the Roman Empire. But...let's face it, Greek culture and coinage is beautiful; and if not for the Greeks, Rome and the rest of the world would look a lot different today. I tend to believe we can learn a lot from ancient Greek history, culture, architecture, art...etc. I'll tell you what is scary; in the area of the country I live (Massachusetts), kids don't really seem to get a good understanding of why history is important in our modern world. I speak with a lot of students...I have teens myself as well. The kids today, from my limited observations, have little regard for history. In fact, there is a general attitude shared by many students that history is not important...that it doesn't matter and we should forget a lot of it based on today's cultural beliefs.
Huh...well I didn't mean for this piece to be political or anything like that. But I am definitely headed toward an opinion piece, so here we go. Although it is difficult for me to participate in many of today's new "requirements" for how to talk and who to like and what to do; I do have an understanding of what is going on and why it is happening. And yes, this is tied to history so I'll continue.
Parents, teachers and many more including myself...we made a BIG mistake. We let tech companies and private industry raise our kids. That's right, and it's not stopping, it's a continuing trend. I'm not judging, I just am telling you I believe a lot of us made a mistake. We let device makers, advertisers, content providers, tech companies...everyone trying to make BIG money, influence how our kids think today. It's very common to see babies today that can operate a smartphone better than the average 40 year old. And it doesn't stop there. These kids grow up on this stuff; and for us parents, it seems sort of great that we can do more "other stuff" while these devices occupy our children's brains. But I'm telling you right now, it's not worth it. So many kids are developing what most of us would consider problems; and parenting becomes intensely more difficult as the kids grow older. I'll stop there...my intent is that we all think about this and how we may make changes to better our entire society. Look at what happened to the Greeks, and the Romans...and so many more when they stopped paying attention. Kids are the future and we are the past. If the kids don't care about the past, where does that leave us?
Which is a great question to lead into what I really want to discuss, Greek coins! Pictured above and at the top of the page, is a recent coin addition to our collection. Alexander III type Tetradrachms aren't difficult to find, but this one is. It is really an amazing coin. Look at the incredible high profile from the strong strike; and the brilliant artistry of the reverse.
When you find a coin this amazing how can you not fall in love with it? Okay, I know; I probably have a problem. Lol, of well, it's a fun problem to have. What most people don't understand about coin collectors is that many of us are not in it to simply accumulate coins because we like shiny objects. We are in it for the art, we are in it for the love of history, we are in it because it's a wonderful hobby that never gets old.
Ancient Greek coins are a great place to start. It's not difficult to start to understand Greek history and culture; and how coins played a major role in society; not just as a monetary instrument, but a propaganda machine as well. Above, is one of my favorite earlier coins (about 400 BC). The coin is from Istrus (or Istros), an important Greek settlement, now part of Turkey. The coin has been subject of much speculation because of its unique design. The two inverted reverse heads...there is nothing else in iconology that is found like this design. It is one of the most unique ancient coins in my opinion, and a very underrated one. Many of the books you will read will tell you that these coins are plentiful. But the truth is, they are not so plentiful as many other popular ancient Greek coins demanding more money.
The hobby is certainly catching fire these days which is nice to see. I've got to say however; the one thing I'm a little disappointed about, is that so many kids don't seem to care much about the hobby. They sort of look...and are like, that's cool and then back to YouTube within seconds. When I was a kid, I loved seeing cool coins. I remember my Uncle Mark used to have this sort of small wooden treasure chest looking box, which he would throw all sort of coin finds into. He had cool coins that you didn't see in circulation. They probably weren't that special or rare, but to me they were really exodic and fun to study. I knew a lot of other kids my age too that were into collecting coins or baseball cards and that sort of thing. I don't see kids doing that these days, the market is mostly driven by old men like me...no I'm only 42. We really need to do a better job to get the kids that like it, interested in this stuff.
I think what is most important, when building a collection of ancient coins, is to find coins that speak to you for some reason. For some, it may be the toaning of the metal, rarity, an error, or die artistry (like me) that grabs your attention. Ancient Greek coinage is a really nice place to start an ancient coin collection, and here is why: